Ep. 275: Empowering Teens to Stay Alcohol-Free

Andy Earle: You're listening to Talking to Teens, where we speak with leading experts from a variety of disciplines about the art and science of parenting teenagers. I'm your host, Andy Earle.

We're here today with Dustin Dunbar, talking about how hard it is for teenagers not to drink and all the skills that we have to teach them if they're going to stand a chance at being alcohol free.

Alcohol suppresses our nervous system. It numbs all of our emotions. And if we don't drink, we're going to have to deal with those emotions and communicate with other people about what we're feeling.

That might be social anxiety, insecurity, fear, depression, shame, or sadness.

How can parents empower our teenagers not to drink and instead to have those hard conversations with themselves and others?

Dustin is the founder of the Alcohol Free Revolution.

And he's known as the alcohol free guru on social media. And he's the author of the new book, You're Doing Great and Other Lies Alcohol Told Me.

Dustin Dunbar, welcome to Talking to Teens podcast.

Dustin Dunbar: Thank you so much, Andy. It's a absolute joy to be here with you today. The books out and it's all thanks to you.

Andy Earle: Oh, thank you. This is really a project close to my heart. We spent some time working on this a couple years ago now. And it's so cool to see the book finally in print.

Dustin Dunbar: Yeah, I look back at those times and I was going through a difficult time in my life. And just to have you there pushing me saying, Hey, we got to do this interview.

I need to know this about your life. I need to know that. And just keeping me on track. Keep me on pace. Was so incredible and I could not have done this book without you.

Andy Earle: Wow. Thanks a lot . That's great to hear. I'm so excited reading through it again. It's really taking me back and it's awesome to have you on the show now to talk about it.

The book is called You're Doing Great (And Other Lies Alcohol Told Me). Talk to me a little bit about that. Where did this come from? What inspired you to write a book about this topic? How did it come together?

Dustin Dunbar: I grew up really poor in the Midwest and it was all about the Puritan farm ethic and being a man and moonshine and whiskey with hardcore farmer guys that the only emotions they showed was anger and happiness. There was no in between. And if you did you were a cry baby. You gotta suck it up. You gotta be a man. And so it was all about trying to prove my worth and killing pain too with alcohol, and suppressing my feelings and my emotions with ethanol, that's the scientific word for alcohol.

It was just part of the culture. My dad was a different kind of guy. He was a doctor in history and super intelligent, athletic . And he started drinking when he was about 25. And so my great grandfather got addicted, my grandfather, and then my father. And they were on different sides. So it wasn't a genetic thing.

So I vowed at age 6-7 to never drink alcohol. And I kept that going 'til I was in my teens. And then, of course, the social peer pressure of being a teenager was way too much for me. You had to have some kind of superpower at my high school to not drink alcohol.

That's what started me drinking. All the ads out there, five ads per day,

that Big Alcohol is putting out there that we see on average, saying, you can drink moderately, socially, and responsibly and have no problems. And two a day is fine. Doctors are saying it. Some are even saying resveratrol with the wine is healthy. It's good for you. It's actually good for you, which is so laughable because there's trace amounts of resveratrol in a glass of wine.

There's 13% ethanol. Addictive cancer causing liquid ethanol. 13% in that glass of wine. So it just cracks me up. And you can get resveratrol from berries, sweet potatoes, dark chocolate. Just eat a grape or have some alcohol free red wine. There's great alcohol free red wine out there now.

But yeah, it was all telling me the lies that were out there, and still are so prevalent about alcohol and health benefits and things. So I thought that I was different than my dad. I thought that I could handle my alcohol.

So I started drinking. Got through college and stuff, same thing. And then business started and, oh my gosh, here we go. Got to be one of the boys. Flying around with CEOs and on golf courses doing shots of tequila. And if you're not, then you're not one of the boys. You feel like you might not get a raise.

Then I did my doctorate in psychology after a lot of business stuff. And the whole passion was to make sure I didn't get addicted make sure I was helping other people with addiction. Because I went through so much pain with my father being abusive to my mother and stuff. It was a slow drip addiction. I got addicted. Started craving it, just like any addictive substance. You start craving it. Your body starts craving it. And then psychologically you start believing inside that you need it.

You need it to have fun. You need it to go to parties. You need it to dance. People will like you more if you drink it. You're more social. You're part of the in crowd. All these lies. That's where the title of the book came from. I'm trying to spread the word now. We have to treat this just like cigarettes.

We must teach our children, our teenagers, you're dealing with a 100 percent addictive substance. Ethanol will kill you. It deadens everything it touches. It is a suppressant. The central nervous system. You are suppressing all of your feelings and knocking them down.

We got to get these feelings out. If you're having insecurities about going to a dance. If you're having insecurities about talking to somebody. If you just got dumped by a boyfriend, by a girlfriend. We got to talk it out. Do not take a crutch, an addictive substance, and use that as our way of communicating our feelings.

So yeah, there's my intro. All right. Let's go.

Andy Earle: Isn't it interesting though how you mentioned five ads a day that we see about alcohol. And they all have that little disclaimer. Drink responsibly. Like it's on us. If you're not handling it well, or if anything bad happens, you just didn't use it responsibly. That's on you.

Dustin Dunbar: Right? And this is what's great about the younger generation. They're seeing through all this BS. And they're starting to drink less. And it's because our collective consciousness is waking up to this BS. To this brainwashing.

It is complete and total brainwashing.

The Alcohol Free Revolution, the non profit organization that I have started, is going to lobby heavily against lawmakers to ban alcohol advertising just like we have banned cigarettes. We had our cigarette moment, right? Where everybody thought it was cool, thought it was sexy, thought it takes the edge off. And then all of a sudden everybody starts dropping dead of cancer.

Same thing's going on with alcohol. The cancer studies are finally coming out. And the CT scans are showing what happens when we have ethanol running through our veins all the time. You will die in early death. It is a fact. If you consistently put ethanol in your body, you will die an early death.

That is it. And that's probably the best thing that's going to happen to you. Because you're suppressing your feelings. You're not communicating properly. And you're not being fully present and alive. And that's the best thing that happened to me when I stopped drinking four years ago. My children actually want to be around me now.

Because I'm joyful. My essence without alcohol is I'm happy, I'm joyful, I'm excited, I'm passionate. I'm like, let's go, let's dance, let's sing, let's have fun. Whenever I'm drinking, I'm like, ooh, that couch looks really nice. Those french fries look nice. Watching football looks nice. My kids want to play? I really don't feel like it. You get in this downward spiral. Whenever you become alcohol free that spiral goes up and you get into the ether regions of consciousness.

I studied tons of spiritual people and every one of them says there's a joy inside of you. There is a bluebird that wants to sing. It's your natural, pure essence. That is what you are suppressing with alcohol. Whenever that that bluebird comes out and you start being joyful, your kids come to you with problems. Because they trust you.

You're present. You're with them. That is the key. If you're not listening to them and present, they feel it. If you're drinking in front of them all the time, I don't care what you say. Really, if you're drinking in front of them all the time, you can't say anything about alcohol.

So how do we talk to teens about alcohol? We do the thing. We don't talk about it. We can talk. We can say, okay, here's some tips on if you're at parties and if you need to, say, I just feel better when I don't drink. I have a game tomorrow. My coach would kill me if I drink tonight, there's all kinds of tips that we can give them to say. And they might be true or not.

We're just trying to get them to not drink that night. So it doesn't matter. But the key factor is you as a parent representing showing them the way. Showing them how to communicate, showing them ethanol is an addictive substance and that we got to treat it just like cigarettes.

How do you talk to teens about cigarettes? Whenever you see somebody around you who's smoking, do you say, Oh my gosh, look, that's gross. Those are so addictive. Are you whispering in their ear? That's disgusting. Man, I can't believe they're smoking. You've done that with them with cigarettes.

Okay. Now the same thing, all the science is out. It's out there. Check it out. This is a 100 percent addictive, toxic carcinogen. The same level of cancer causing agent as tobacco. Oh man, that's gross. That stuff is really nasty. That stuff will cause so many problems. Your uncle Joe, remember him? He died of liver failure because of that stuff. Remember Aunt Susie, whoever is in your family, everybody's got somebody in their family that went to the extreme. They started out drinking moderately, responsibly, and socially. Everybody starts there, right?

Everybody. And then it gets worse and worse. So there you go. I'm passionate. I'm fired up. Let's go.

Andy Earle: It does feel like we're on the cusp of this consciousness revolution that you've been talking about. I remember a few years ago when you first started opening my eyes to all this stuff and got me to start looking at how I was drinking. And I remember you first telling me, there's these bars starting to come that are, non alcoholic. They're coming out with drinks now that are non alcoholic. And since then, over the last few years, I feel like I've seen it explode. Now it's every bar you go to, there's non alcoholic stuff. I've seen so many new brands coming up all over the place that have really cool non alcoholic beverages.

It feels like we're getting into this cultural awakening, and I think the later generations are riding that wave of a deeper level of understanding and thinking a lot more critically about alcohol.

Dustin Dunbar: Yeah, these big alcohol companies are billion dollar companies.

We're talking some of the wealthiest companies in the world. And they see the writing on the wall. They know alcohol is proven to cause cancer. So guess what they're doing? They're changing their marketing. They're saying zero, just like Diet Coke.

They saw that sugar was causing all kinds of diabetes. There's 11 teaspoons of sugar in one Coca Cola. And all of a sudden, oh, there's 13 percent ethanol in there. This has proven to cause cancer. This is our product. How long are we going to get away with this? So guess what they're doing?

It's all a new rebranding. And zero is the key now. Alcohol free. I don't see it taking too much longer. Of course, alcohol has been in our consciousness for tens of thousands of years. It's been the only painkiller available to us. Of course we have this deep love and joy of it, because it's been the only thing to take away pain psychologically and physically for tens of thousands of years.

We have this collective illusion that we came into this world with. That alcohol benefits us in some way. And that is a lie. Past generations that was all they had. We don't need ethanol to do that anymore. We gotta move on and do healthy things to cure our pain in a healthy way.

With meditation. With talking to people like we're doing right now. We're getting our feelings out. We're being vulnerable. And that's what the Alcohol Free Revolution is all about. And the coaching I've set up. It's free. It's at wearetheafr.Org. And it's not just for people with alcohol addiction. It's everything. We do breath work. We do all kinds of hypnotherapy with fears. You name it. How to communicate better. Honestly, it doesn't have that much to do with alcohol. We'll talk about alcohol a little bit. But once you read my book and then you read Annie Grace's This Naked Mind your alcohol free light goes Boom. And it's whoa, what is this stuff?

Oh my gosh. Why have I been paying so much money and believing it helps me do these things? And the next day, everybody knows how bad it is. Every time you put it up to your mouth. You shouldn't be drinking ethanol. You can smell that stuff in there. I don't care how much they dilute it.

Maybe a pina colada. Man, pina coladas were always the best. Just pure sugar. But anyway, we know how bad it is and instinctively how bad it is. The easy part is not drinking once you start reading the books. The hard part is doing the personal development, learning how to communicate properly. When the pain you've suppressed for 30 years starts to surface. That's what the Alcohol Free Revolution is there for, and the tagline is, you'll never walk alone.

Andy Earle: Yeah, it really does feel like there's all these myths that are built up in our culture about how great alcohol is and how good it's going to make you feel. How cool and sexy it's going to make you . Even consciously we can say, oh, no, I know that's not true. On a subconscious level we are continually sold these messages over and over again. And I think it's impossible to grow up in our society without internalizing some of these ideas about how it's going to help you in all these ways.

Dustin Dunbar: Especially teenagers. They're sponges for everything that's out there.

And so when they're seeing five ads a day of these sexy people dancing in bikinis with Crown Royal and a DJ is out there and they're doing all these cool, fun things. And of course everybody's about to have sex. It's this big, beautiful scene. And it's like, drink responsibly.

So now I'm about to get hit hard because I've got nine year old and 10 year old daughters. And they are both going to college someday. All right, so 50 percent of female college students will be sexually abused. That is the number. And this has got to change.

Alcohol is one of the biggest reasons of that. Of course, we're always going to have psychopaths and people who are just horrible. However, 50%? Come on, it's ridiculous. If you look at what is causing that, Alcohol just infused shots before you go to the party shots during beers while in between the shots.

And then we've got a girl passed out on a bed, just like an Animal House, the movie. Okay. In the movie Animal House, he's got an angel on one side. He's got a devil on one side and he's having this debate. This girl's topless on the bed and he's having this debate if he should or shouldn't.

In the movie, the angel wins out. In real life with a 18-19 year old boy, hormones raging through him, who's also drunk, and has been hanging out with this girl all night, and it's leading up to this, and now she's in his room and by herself.

That boy has very little chance of escaping that. And his life can be ruined along with hers. Right there, in that moment. Because they've put themselves in a place where alcohol and hormones have completely taken over.

So the thing that we need to teach, I'm teaching my girls like crazy, is that whenever they are around alcohol and boys who are drinking, they have to be so careful. Those boys are basically animals. I'm not kidding. They have very little control over their consciousness. Whenever they're not drinking, okay, now we're in safe mode. We can relax. And so I'm also teaching them to be so careful with alcohol. I'm teaching them just like cigarettes. You are messing with complete fire.

They're all into the skin care these days, and so I'm like, okay, the number one thing you can do is stay out of the sun with skin. This is all dermatologists every one of them. Guess what's number two to help your skin look good? Don't drink ethanol. ethanol.

That's number two. Okay. So if you're talking to girls really press them on that and be like look you're gonna get wrinkly. Oh, look at that lady over there.

She's drinking look at her wrinkles. And i'm not doing it where the lady knows or anything. But i'm like she's drinking a martini and she's probably 50. She looks like she's 90. It looks a old grape. Like dried up. And it's that ethanol has dried her skin.

So just be like, okay, what is their motivation? And at 15, it's to look great. And it's like, all right, do you really want to look great? You better not be drinking that 5 percent ethanol in that beer. It's that's going to make you look wrinkly.

Andy Earle: You have a story in the book about when you were 15 at a party and you're trying to impress a girl. And your buddy hands you a drink and he's like, get in there, go shotgun this beer and go get her.

Dustin Dunbar: Yeah, it was actually my first time to drink. Like really, I'd tasted some stuff before, but I think it was like 15 years old. And he knows that I liked this girl. And this girl's standing by the pool in a red bikini. And of course I'm like, Oh my God, I've been sweating this girl all year and wanting to talk to her and hadn't had the chance. And she's got a beer in her hand. So I was like, okay, I want to fit in.

I want to be like her. And this is when I vowed, I'm not drinking ever in my life. And sure enough, that peer pressure, wanting to fit in. You can't be the most interesting man in the world unless you've got a beer in your hand.

So yeah, I did a shotgun and went over there with another beer in my hand to fit in with her. And then I started talking to her for the first time.

And it led to me dating her a little bit here and there. And so in my mind, I was like, Oh, alcohol gets girls. Oh my gosh. Then there you go. Because that's it.

Andy Earle: It works. Yeah.

Dustin Dunbar: That's Pavlov's response system. And, of course, later I talked to her and she didn't date me because of me drinking, she dated me because she thought I was a nice guy.

And wanted to hang out. But it takes you so much un programming and un brainwashing your mind. And that's what the Annie Grace book and my book do. We un brainwash you from these beliefs that you need this substance to speak to women, have a good time, and have a good life. Since I've taken alcohol away, the confidence that I have now and just the ability to go into a party and have great conversation that actually means stuff. Us guys, we're very like, Oh, sports. And, Hey, how about those bears? And now it's like these in-depth conversations. I tell jokes appropriately and in front of the right people. I'm not obnoxious. And I even feel like I'm in control of my dancing a little bit better.

I've seen the videos of me dancing from when I was drunk and that was not good. It all goes back to that inner joy that starts surfacing once we remove the alcohol. And then we start dealing with any kind of past trauma in childhood that we didn't get to get our feelings out because nobody talked to us because it wasn't a thing back then.

Now it's a thing. This is why the drinking stuff is going down. The numbers are going down. Of teens drinking. And they're getting their feelings out. And so props to all the parents out there who are listening to this show because you are what is creating this consciousness.

And guess what they're going to do in their future? They're going to help their teens. And it's generational chains that we're breaking. And it's the best thing you can do on this planet. That's why we're here.

But I want to talk about real quick the alcohol free revolution and how awesome it is that you're a member. And you're not addicted to alcohol and you're just communicating and in there. And that's the point of this revolution is to get as many members as possible. And it doesn't matter if you're drinking or not. We're going to get rid of this advertising. We've got to get rid of the brainwashing of these kids that see these ads every day.

You have to understand this is a long term effect we've got to get rid of. So if you could please everybody go to, wearetheAFR.Org and join skool and become a member. And that gives us lobbying power whenever our membership grows.

Andy Earle: I really encourage people to go join, sign up. It's easy. You get in the group. You can see all the topics that are getting discussed in there and just find support. See other people who are also trying to drink less, trying to become more aware of the myths around alcohol and see through the conditioning. It's really inspiring.

Dustin, thank you so much for coming on the show today and talking with us about your journey with alcohol, your story, all of these myths, and talking about your book, You're Doing Great and Other Lies Alcohol Told Me.

Dustin Dunbar: And one last thing. Teenagers, I make my social media, Instagram, Tik TOK, all that very kid friendly because I want my kids to be able to watch me. They see my videos, they're around me a lot.

They're in the videos too. And so if you guys want to follow me and have your teenagers follow me on Instagram and TikTok and all that, it's @DustinDunbar AFG. And AFG stands for Alcohol Free Guru. And I'm just doing all kinds of tips in there of how to stay alcohol free. I am the most alcohol free interesting man in the world.

And I show all these cool alcohol free mocktails and alcohol free wine and all this stuff. And so it's fun. I have a lot of fun. I travel around the world. I'm in different places. So yeah, @DustinDunbarAFG is the social media.

Andy Earle: And where do we find you? Instagram, TikTok, YouTube?

Dustin Dunbar: All of it. Yeah. All of it. Yep.

Andy Earle: @DustinDunbarAFG. Check it out. Highly encourage people get a copy of the book, follow on social media, and join the revolution.

Dustin Dunbar: The revolution, Viva.

Andy Earle: Yes. Dustin, thank you so much for coming on the show today. It's been really deep, enlightening, inspiring, and powerful.

Dustin Dunbar: Thank you, Andy. And thank you for making this book happen.

Andy Earle: We're here today with Dustin Dunbar talking about the challenges of being an alcohol free teenager, and we're not done yet. Here's a look at what's coming up in the second half of the show.

Dustin Dunbar: I went into an existential crisis mixed with a spiritual awakening. One of the coolest things that ever happened to me. It's also one of the scariest things.

That was my problem. Whenever I started setting boundaries, is I was using the sledgehammer, I was like, if we can't talk to me in an appropriate way, I don't ever want to talk to you.

Andy Earle: I'm out of here. Yeah, totally.

Dustin Dunbar: I quit. No, we just say, Hey, I'd really appreciate it if we can communicate in a calm, easy way, instead of yelling at each other.

I've got a tween right now. She comes at me like a wild banshee. That anger. Woo. The only thing that has been able to help her is for me in a very calm way to say, okay, you're angry with me and you're angry with everything. But instead of just being angry, what is the feeling? It just hurt me. My friend was yelling at me.

Okay, so you felt hurt. What else did you feel? And then you're talking, you're in there. Instead of this anger wall. You're inside of her consciousness.

Andy Earle: Want to hear the full interview? Sign up for a subscription today. It's completely affordable and your membership supports the work we do here at talking to teens.

You can now subscribe directly through Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening. And we'll see you next time.

Creators and Guests

Andy Earle
Andy Earle
Host of the Talking to Teens Podcast and founder of Write It Great
Control alcohol and live an incredible life alcohol-free.
Ep. 275: Empowering Teens to Stay Alcohol-Free
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